Obesity is a medical condition that adversely affects every system in the body. It has recently surpassed tobacco smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in Australia.

At any age, obesity shortens your lifespan. People aged between 25 and 35 who have severe obesity are 12 times more likely to die early than those without obesity. Adults who have obesity at 40 years of age die on average seven years sooner than adults whose BMI is within the healthy range. The impact of years of life lost is greater for men than for women. It has been estimated that the steady rise in life expectancy over the last 200 years may come to an end due to the increasing prevalence of obesity.

The medical problems associated with obesity are referred to as co-morbidities. Eight out of 10 people who suffer from obesity will develop one of the following co-morbidities; six out of 10 will develop at least three:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood cholesterol and abnormal blood lipids
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Infertility
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fatty liver disease and liver failure
  • Heartburn and reflux
  • Cancer – breast, bowel, liver, kidney, prostate, endometrial
  • Depression
  • Blood clots
  • Gall stones
  • Abdominal hernias

Fortunately, obesity can be treated and weight loss reverses most of the damage.

Weight loss benefits

For example, weight loss surgery resolves type 2 diabetes in 80 per cent of people with obesity once the excess weight is lost.